Robert Mitchum, 79, the swaggering, sleepy-eyed actor with slick black hair and a classically cleft chin who was among the last of the giants of Hollywood's golden era, died July 1 at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif. He had emphysema and lung cancer.

Critics praised the actor for his "easy physical grace." For many, he appeared as a man to be reckoned with while still maintaining a sense of gallant sensitivity. They came to praise his distinctive barrel-chested swagger and booming baritone, as well as the touch of almost relaxed and good-humored menace that he brought to straightforward villains and heroes on the silver screen.

But Mr. Mitchum, known for his self-deprecating humor, described himself as a "poet with an ax." He said that "when producers have a part that's hard to cast, they say, Send for Mitchum; he'll do anything.' " He seemed to agree, saying, "I don't care what I play; I'll play Polish gays, women, midgets, anything."

Over the years, he starred with many of Hollywood's leading actresses: Elizabeth Taylor in "Secret Ceremony" (1968), Jane Russell in "Macao" (1952) and "His Kind of Woman" (1951), Ava Gardner in "My Forbidden Past" (1951), Susan Hayward in "White Witch Doctor" (1953), Rita Hayworth in "Fire Down Below" (1957), Shirley MacLaine in "Two for the Seesaw" (1962) and Deborah Kerr in "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" (1957).

In 1993, Kerr observed that Mr. Mitchum was "a far more complex person than his lazy, relaxed manner would have you believe, a man who hides many lights under many bushels."

In 1955, he appeared in two of his most dramatic roles, as an idealistic surgeon in "Not as a Stranger" and as a crazed evangelist in "Night of the Hunter," Charles Laughton's only film as a director. His string of no-nonsense characters went on to include parts in "Ryan's Daughter" (1970), "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" (1973) and the Raymond Chandler detective classic "The Big Sleep" (1978).

In 1983, he starred as a gruff, tough U.S. Navy officer in the ABC miniseries "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance," based on novels by Herman Wouk concerning World War II. That work brought him some of the greatest popularity and critical acclaim of his later career.

Despite his popularity, undoubted skill and roles in more than 125 films, Mr. Mitchum never won an Academy Award.

His granite face and rugged manner blended with his off-screen image as a boozer and womanizer to create a bad-boy image that was a stark contrast to such suave and glamorous leading men of the 1930s as Cary Grant.

It was an image that Mr. Mitchum helped to cultivate and was fueled by his accounts of growing up directionless, working as a ditch digger, a coal miner and a professional boxer.

Mr. Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Conn. After his father died in a railroad switching-yard accident, he lived with his mother and stepfather in New York's Hell's Kitchen. He said that at age 12 he wandered across the country until settling in Long Beach, Calif., in 1937. There, his sister, Julie, who was working as a nightclub singer, urged him to join a local theater group.

He worked as a stagehand, wrote and directed plays and occasionally did some acting. He then held a variety of jobs that included sheet-metal worker, radio writer and shoe salesman before signing on as a movie extra.

His film career began in the early 1940s when an interview with William Boyd led to Mr. Mitchum's casting in eight Hopalong Cassidy Westerns.

He received a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for "The Story of G.I. Joe" (1945). It was his first substantial role, and it launched his career. He played Army Capt. Walker in the World War II drama. His portrayal of a hard-bitten infantryman who dies in the battlefield next to his men showcased his trademark naturalism.

His career suffered disruptions and complications. Drafted into the Army during World War II, Mr. Mitchum served eight months in uniform before he was granted a dependency discharge. Then, in 1948, he and a blond starlet named Lila Leeds were arrested at her home on charges of possession of marijuana. At the time, the case appeared to threaten his $3,000-a-week career. When Mr. Mitchum was sentenced to 60 days in jail, some columnists wrote that his days as a leading man were limited.

But through it all, his career withstood controversy, perhaps because of a series of immensely strong film performances. Those movies included the 1946 psychological drama "Undercurrent" with Katharine Hepburn. During the filming of that movie, Hepburn, reportedly frustrated by Mr. Mitchum's persistent pranks and lack of seriousness on the set, told him: "You know you can't act, and if you hadn't been good-looking, you would never have gotten a picture. I'm tired of playing with people who have nothing to offer."

Hepburn's criticism was not far from the mark. In recent interviews, Mr. Mitchum regularly dismissed his "screen legend" status, describing himself as a journeyman actor who had never seen all of his own pictures.

In interviews, his comments usually aroused controversy. His comments about Jews in a magazine article brought demands from the Jewish Defense League for an apology. Mitchum obliged, saying: "I was just putting him {the writer} on. I couldn't believe that he didn't understand."

His nonchalant attitude and straight talk endeared him to several generations of movie fans. In the 1980s, his roles were confined mainly to the small screen. In 1991, he made a cameo appearance in Martin Scorsese's remake of the 1962 thriller "Cape Fear," in which Mr. Mitchum had played the vengeful ex-con Max Cady.

In recent years, Mr. Mitchum had done voice-overs for commercials, films and TV shows. In all, Mr. Mitchum once said, it was a career that wasn't bad for someone who never received formal acting lessons. Taking acting lessons, he said, "is like going to school to learn to be tall."

Despite brief separations in 1948 and 1953, Mr. Mitchum and his wife, Dorothy, remained married. Of their three children, two, James and Christopher, occasionally have worked as actors, and the third, Petrine, worked for a movie production company. WILLIAM CHAMBERLAINE COE Brokerage Firm Executive

William Chamberlaine Coe, 96, who co-founded a Washington investment firm in the late 1930s and served as vice president of Johnston & Lemon from 1973 until his retirement in 1988, died of a pulmonary embolism June 18 at Virginia Beach General Hospital.

In 1926, he settled in Washington, where he became manager of Brooke, Stokes & Co., a Washington brokerage firm. In 1939, he co-founded Mackall & Coe, which later merged with Johnston & Lemon.

Mr. Coe, a longtime Washington resident, retired to Virginia Beach in 1988.

He was born in Newburgh, N.Y. He attended St. Albans School for Boys in Washington and was a 1920 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He retired on military disability in 1926.

He was a past regional governor and first vice president of the Association of the Stock Exchange Firms and past president of the Washington Bond Club. He was a founder of the Washington chapter of the Ducks Unlimited, a conservation organization.

During World War II, Mr. Coe served as secretary of the Army & Navy Club. In 1995, was named the club's First Knight of the Golden Circle, an honor given to the member with the longest tenure.

Skeet shooting enthusiasts, Mr. Coe and his wife, Katherine, whom he married in 1934, founded the National Capital Skeet Club.

His wife died in 1989. Survivors include two daughters, Anne Coe Heyniger of Washington and Linda Chamberlaine Coe of Boxborough, Mass.; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. BETTY ANN McKEE Navy Wife

Betty Ann McKee, 66, a Navy wife and former Annandale resident who in recent years had owned and operated the Amarilus antique store in Oxford, Md., died of cancer June 28 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She lived in Oxford.

Mrs. McKee, who had lived in the Washington area on and off from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, was an Alabama native and a graduate of Millsaps College in Mississippi.

She married Kinnarid Rowe McKee 44 years ago, when the future four-star admiral was a lieutenant junior grade. Before her husband retired, she had accompanied him to posts in the United States and abroad. A member of the board of the Navy Wifeline Association, she had been active in Navy wives' organizations. She had assisted her husband when he served as superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis from 1975 to 1978.

Mrs. McKee had attended St. Albans Episcopal Church in Annandale.

A musician and artist, her interests included needlework, oil painting, floral design and home restoration. She was a member of the Talbot County (Md.) Historical Society. She had done volunteer work with the Talbot County Riders.

In addition to her husband, of Oxford, survivors include two children, James H. McKee and Anne A. McKee, both of Alexandria; and four grandchildren. LEV GANDIN Meteorologist

Lev Gandin, 76, a meteorologist with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction who taught numeric weather prediction from the 1950s to the 1970s at an institute in his native Leningrad, died of lung cancer June 25 at his home in Silver Spring. He had lived there since leaving the Soviet Union 10 years ago.

Dr. Gandin was author of 14 books, including "Objective Analysis of Meteorological Fields," and more than 200 scientific articles. He was a graduate of Leningrad State University, where he also received a doctorate.

He worked at the main geophysical observatory in Leningrad until 1981, when he was fired after attempting to emigrate. Over the next six years, he worked on what would become his main contribution to his field, a theory of complex quality control for meteorology.

After moving to the United States, he joined the National Meteorological Center, a predecessor of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, and worked in the development division. He was an honorary member of the American Meteorological Society.

Survivors include his wife, Nadezhada Gandin of Silver Spring; two sons, Nikolas Gandin of Silver Spring and Alexey Gandin of Denver; and a granddaughter. JAMES W. MAGEE Washington Native

James W. Magee, 62, a Washington native who was a graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, died of heart ailments June 29 at his home in Sebastian, Fla.

Mr. Magee attended the University of Maryland and left the Washington area in 1950s to work for the Roadway Express trucking company in York, Pa. In the 1970s, he owned a sporting goods store in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and was an auditor for the Quality Inn in Ocean City, Md.

He settled in Florida in the mid-1980s and worked as an auditor for the Doubletree Guest Quarters in Vero Beach until 1992, when he took early retirement for health reasons.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Catherine Magee of Sebastian; three daughters, Dianne Abrams of Seaford, Del., Deborah Farrell of Alexandria and Catherine Heronemus of Lewes, Del.; three sons, James W. Magee Jr. of Severna Park, Michael W. Magee of Salisbury, Md., and Robert E. Magee of Ocean View, Del.; a brother, Robert W. Magee of Vero Beach; a sister, Dianne Nordyke of Bethesda; his father, Warren E. Magee of Bethesda; and 10 grandchildren. BERNARD D. CERRA FBI Special Agent

Bernard D. Cerra, 50, an FBI special agent who worked for the Washington field office since 1978, died June 29 in a hospital in Holden Beach, N.C., after a heart attack. He lived in Springfield.

Mr. Cerra, who was on vacation in North Carolina when he fell ill, was born in Carbondale, Pa., and graduated from the University of Scranton. He served as a helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.

He began his career with the FBI in 1973 as a special agent in the field office in Birmingham.

He was a member of the USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, Heroes Inc. and American Legion Post 176.

Survivors include his wife, Diane M. Cerra of Springfield; three children, B. David Cerra of Ashburn, Erin Cerra of Houston and Christopher Cerra of Springfield; his parents, Bernard J. Cerra and Mary Cerra of Carbondale; and a sister, Nancy Staffaroni of Harrisburg, Pa. CARL O. CHRISTENSEN Sr. Physical Therapist

Carl. O. Christensen Sr., 96, a retired physical therapist, died of congestive heart failure June 29 at Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Va. A former resident of Washington and Annandale, he was a patient in a Luray nursing home.

Mr. Christensen attended Skodborg Hydropathic Sanitarium in his native Denmark. After moving to Washington in 1923, he worked at hospitals that included Providence, Georgetown and a forerunner of D.C. General. He was in private practice in Washington until the 1980s.

His first wife, Kristina Erickson Christensen, died in 1956, and his second wife, Elizabeth Pile Christensen, died last year.

Survivors include four children from his first marriage, Lillian "Criss" Anthony of Luray, Kenneth Christensen of Lynchburg, Va., Norma McClain Armstrong of Woodbridge and Carl Christensen Jr. of Annandale; 11 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren. JOHN E. BECKMAN Civil Service Official

John Edward Beckman, 87, a retired chief of the Civil Service Commission's bureau of recruiting and examining, died of cancer June 29 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. He lived in Gaithersburg.

Mr. Beckman joined the commission in 1938 as an examiner in the upper Midwest. In 1954, he transferred to Washington, where he spent nine years as bureau chief before retiring in 1972.

He was a past president of the Rockville Civitan. He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg and American Legion's Cecil Saxon Post in Silver Spring.

Mr. Beckman, a Chicago native, was a 1938 graduate of Northwestern University. During World War II, he served with the Navy in the Pacific aboard the battleship Washington.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Mary Helen Beckman of Gaithersburg; a son, William, of Nashville; two daughters, Elizabeth A. Kenney of Danville, Calif., and Sherrill L. Thomas of Kent Island, Md.; a sister, Ellen J. Beckman of Hyattsville; nine grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. JOHN FRANCIS DYER Marketing Consultant

John Francis Dyer, 71, a marketing consultant who operated his own business, John Dyer Associates, died June 28 at his home in Bethesda after a heart attack.

Mr. Dyer was born in Arlington, Mass., and served in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II. He later graduated from Boston College.

He was a journalist with Business Week magazine in New York and then in public relations with International Business Machines Corp. About 1960, he transferred to Washington for IBM. He formed his own business in 1971 and ran the operation until retiring in the early 1980s.

He did volunteer work with the Catholic Youth Organization football program, and he was a member of the Izaak Walton League. He was a skeet shooter.

Survivors include his wife, Audrey Louise Dyer of Bethesda; eight children, David Dyer, Maura Dyer and John Dyer, all of Bethesda, Jo-Ann Dyer Wood of McLean, Christopher Dyer of Ellicott City, Susan Dyer McCardell of Columbia, Elizabeth Dyer Wilson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Robert Dyer of Washington; and five grandsons. MARY LOUISE GRISSINGER McDAID Clerk

Mary Louise Grissinger McDaid, 83, a retired clerk for the Department of the Army, died of cancer June 27 at Arlington Hospital.

Mrs. McDaid, who lived in Arlington, was born in McConnellsburg, Pa. She moved to the Washington area in 1942 and began working for the Army shortly thereafter. She retired in 1972. Her husband of 45 years, Donald McDaid, died in 1987. She leaves no immediate survivors. CAPTION: ROBERT MITCHUM (1989 photo)